How to Find a Good Lawyer
Choosing a good lawyer is like choosing any other product or service. It’s best to do thorough research to help you make an informed decision. Once you secure several lawyer referrals with expertise in the appropriate practice area, you should carefully research each candidate. Below are some simple steps to choosing the best lawyer for your legal needs.
Conducting Candidate Interviews
One of the best ways to assess a lawyer’s legal ability is by interviewing them. Most attorneys will provide an initial consultation—usually an hour or less—at no charge.
Keep in mind that a higher fee does not necessarily equate with a more qualified attorney. Consequently, a rock bottom fee may signal problems, inexperience, or incompetence.
Consulting the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory
Martindale-Hubbell is a great resource for information about a law firm and its lawyers. This guide—which can be found online at Martindale.com and at your local public and law libraries—is often used by lawyers when choosing legal talent in another jurisdiction.
Asking Other Attorneys
Lawyers know the skill and reputation of other lawyers. Attorneys may be able to provide information about a fellow lawyer that you may not find in a book or online, such as information about a lawyer’s ethics, competence level, demeanor, practice habits, and reputation
How to Find a Criminal Lawyer
how Do I Find a Criminal Defense Lawyer?
Many resources exist to help people find attorneys that will resolve their legal matters. Before hiring a lawyer — including the right criminal defense attorney — it is important to conduct research and ask questions. Criminal defense lawyers are hired by defendants. Defendants can be individuals or a group of people
As noted above, researching different attorneys and gathering as much information about the lawyer you may hire is important. The reality of some legal matters, however, does not allow for extra time to conduct lengthy, if any, research.
For example, if someone is incarcerated, and cannot afford to hire an attorney, then the court will provide information regarding a court appointed attorney. While it is a good practice to research potential attorneys to hire, it is most crucial to have an attorney by your side to protect your rights in criminal matters
What Happens in a Criminal Case?
A civil case usually involves private citizens or businesses. The person or entity that brings a civil lawsuit against another party is usually looking to be financially reimbursed for some sort of damages. In criminal cases the party that brings the lawsuit is typically the government. The government imposes punishments — jail time, fines, probation, etc. — on the defendant.
When Should I Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney?
A defendant in a criminal matter should hire a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. The attorney’s job is to protect the defendant’s rights and also to advise and lay out the scenarios or possibilities of what may occur in the case. It is imperative that the rights of the defendant are protected and the best way to do this is to work with an experienced criminal defense lawyer.
Hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you’ve been arrested or charged with a crime, you’ll probably need the immediate assistance of a criminal defense lawyer, particularly if your liberty is at stake. A good criminal defense lawyer can explain your rights in all stages of the criminal process and help make the difference between a reduced plea bargain or dismissal and a jail sentence.
Why You Need a Criminal Defense Lawyer
Being charged with a crime — whether major or minor — is a serious matter. A person facing criminal charges risks severe penalties and consequences, such as jail time, having a criminal record, and loss of relationships and future job prospects, among other things. While some legal matters can be handled alone, a criminal arrest of any nature warrants the legal advice of a qualified criminal defense attorney who can protect your rights and secure the best possible outcome for your case
What to Look for When Hiring a Criminal Defense Lawyer
Criminal defense attorneys handle a variety of criminal cases, including felonies, misdemeanors, drug charges, white collar crimes, and many other state and federal crimes. When looking for a criminal defense lawyer, you’ll want to find the best one for your case. As such, you should concentrate on the lawyer’s expertise, skill level, and knowledge.
How to Find a Criminal Defense Lawyer
There are numerous ways to find and hire a criminal defense lawyer. Referrals from friends and family or online research may be a good start. However, in many instances, a person facing criminal charges may not wish to publicize the news of his or her arrest to extended family members and friends or may not have unlimited time to research online.
Questions to Ask a Criminal Defense Lawyer
Before selecting a criminal defense lawyer, you should feel comfortable enough speaking with him or her concerning all aspects of your criminal charge
What to Look for in a Private Criminal Defense Attorney
The attorney you’re looking for will probably not be the same person who handled your will, or helped you buy a house, or whom you aunt used when she was involved in a car accident. These all were civil attorneys, whereas you want someone who specializes in criminal law. (In small town, however, you may have no choice but to hire someone who practices in both areanas.)
Civil versus Criminal Attorneys
Private criminal defense lawyers tend to practice either on their own or in small partnerships, and in a specific geographical setting. By contrast, attorneys who handle civil cases tend to congregate in large corporate law firms with branch offices in many cities.
The Local Advantage
A defendant should try to hire an attorney with experience in the courthouse where the defendant’s case is pending. Though the same laws may be in effect throughout a state, procedures vary from one courthouse to another. For example, the D.A. in one county may have a no-plea-bargaining policy with respect to a certain offense, while the D.A. in a neighboring county may have no such policy. Or, defense attorneys in one county may know which prosecutors are more likely to plead right before trial, as against those who will negotiate in advance. Local attorneys also know the police officers and how they perform in court before juries. Defendants should prefer attorneys who have experience with local procedures and personnel.
Experience with the Crimes Charged
A defendant should also try to find an attorney who has represented defendants charged with the same or very similar offenses. Modern criminal law is so complex that many lawyers specialize in particular types of offenses. For example, one may specialize in drunk driving, another in drug offenses, and another in white-collar crimes (generally referring to nonviolent, money-related crimes, such as tax fraud or embezzlement).
The Personal Factor
A defendant’s lawyer speaks for the defendant. No matter how highly recommended a lawyer may be, it is also important that the lawyer be someone with whom the defendant is personally comfortable. The best attorney-client relationships are those in which clients are full partners in the decision-making process, and defendants should try to hire lawyers who see them as partners, not as case files
Selecting a Criminal Defense Attorney
If you’ve been arrested for or charged with a crime—regardless of how serious—it’s a good idea to talk to an attorney. Depending on your financial situation, you might consider hiring a private criminal defense lawyer. (Another option, again depending on your finances, is court-appointed counsel; self-representation is also possible but usually a bad idea.)
It’s usually best to talk to a criminal lawyer as soon as possible after being arrested. Although your first court date may be a ways out, finding a lawyer can take some time, and there might be things you can do in the meantime to improve the outlook of your case. For instance, if your case involves drugs or alcohol, an attorney might advise you to get into treatment or start going to 12-step meetings like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), even before going to court for the first time.
Finding the Right Attorney
Because there are so many criminal defense attorneys out there, the task of selecting one can be daunting. Here are some suggestions and considerations that might help you make the choice
Most criminal defense attorneys offer prospective clients a free initial consultation. Taking advantage of this opportunity to meet the attorney and get some of your questions answered doesn’t obligate you to hire the attorney. But an in-person consult will often give you a good idea of whether you can work with a particular attorney or firm.
Questions to Ask
There’s no surefire way of picking the “best” criminal defense attorney. But asking some questions can help to inform your decision. Below are some things you might want to ask about